School year 2019
Logistics’ lessons abroad
– an internship report –
From January 1st, 2018 To March 30th, 2018 , Bangkok, THAILAND
Fashion, Cinema, Music or the National Basketball Association. These are where I always dreamt to work in. As a lot of people, I guess, to work in what we have interest is surely the best deal. So, when our dear business school of the BBA-ECE INSEEC presented us the three months period of internship abroad, I immediately thought about these sectors. But I must admit that I did not begin my applications as the school advised us, that is to say from May. Instead, I enjoyed my summer by working and I began to contact and search some potential employer during October. I was determined to find an internship which will correspond to my passions, and which will be located in an Anglo-Saxon country, because I wanted to improve my English level. I knew that I wanted not to go in some region as Asia or Africa, because of the population’s lack of English speaking.
None of this happened… I cannot numerate the number of mail I have done but I am still waiting for a reply … It is the hard reality of the market I guess. So logically, all my entourage as my friends and my family was beginning to worry about my advance. The school was also beginning to remember me that the deadline was almost, and over. During the same time, I was occupied with all the homework, groupwork and the exams to prepare, my lack of organization began to have a sort of impact. Fortunately, I began to get some Skype interview. I also decided to use the services of some specialized companies in the research of internship, known as job agencies. Then I received more calls, which permit me to be in a peaceful mindset to prepare the exams. The problem was that the companies which developed interest on me was not companies I wanted to work with, the proposal they gave me was not in a real harmony with my professional aims. So, we were by the end of November and I still was without a placement. Then, maybe by mercy, some friend proposed me to join them in the same internship. I was offered two interesting internships. On the one hand it was in Chile working in a sort of hostel, in the other hand it was at Bangkok with a very good friend in Logistics. I contacted the two companies and the last one was the first to propose me a Skype interview. Two days later I was accepted. A week later the work placement agreement was signed by the School, the Company and Me. This is how I get my internship with Siam Shipping.
Finally, I was going to a country where at the beginning I was not interest in, but time use reasons … I was going to the Kingdom of Thailand.
More than improving my English, an important thing I wanted; was to discover a new environment, with a new culture. By going to Thailand, I was guaranteed to fill this goal. But we do not have to forget that we, students, were going to do an internship above all. So, indeed, the aim of this “adventure”, if I can describe it as one, was to learn with professionals, to discover a job and a sector. I really wanted to improve my professional skills and knowledge. Also, I wanted to really discover this international aspect, that is to say the different way of work, and the routines of each person.
In this report you will be able to read about the company that gave me a chance to work for three months; Siam Shipping. I will present you their environment, their sector, their story. Then I will tell you about the responsibilities I was in charge of, the missions, my colleagues, my partners, the goals. And to finish I will give you my feelings about all these three months, from a professional point of view, about Siam Shipping but as well from a personal point of view of the everyday life, about the cultural choc.
Siam Shipping was born from the collaboration between a young business student and a young worker in Logistics. Their names; Nicolas RHAME and Nathan Lelievre. The two are French and they met at Bangkok when Nicolas RHAME had to do an internship as we did. His mentor was Nathan Lelievre. They worked for as seller in a Logistics Corporation.
One day, bored by all the rules and the restrictions imposed by a corporate work, they decided to work together and to set up their own business, in that same sector of the Logistics. So, in 2008, Siam Shipping was born. Their aim is to accomplish all type of shipping, in Thailand and all around the world.
The business is settled in Bangkok, Thailand. “Siam” comes from the old name of the Kingdom of Thailand. So indeed, Nathan and Nicolas, decided to focus on the Thai market.
Structure and results of the company
Currently, the company regroups fifteen employees which make it a medium size (SME). There are two websites of Siam Shipping, the original one opened to every demand and a more specific one, Siam Relocation, which is as its name told us, specialist for the international moving, especially for household goods and personal effects. Siam Shipping was made for BtoB when Siam Relocation was to answer to the BtoC. In reality, people are more often visiting the original website as siam-shipping.com so they receive quotation request for personal goods from both website.
As Siam Shipping is settled in Thailand and as Nathan and Nicolas are French, it was impossible due to the Thai policy to set their business alone. The company have to be at 51% Thai. Thanks to their network they got the possibility to start their business by being “sponsored” by a bigger Logistics company: Royal Tainer Co. LTD. But without losing their freedom of activities. It was a partnership; they were able to create Siam Shipping. So, they still work closely with Royal Tainer Co. LTD. and the “co-owner” is an accountant dedicated to the company.
That partnership offered to Nathan and Nicolas a head office located in downtown Bangkok, with idyllic location (near of the major port and airport) and a reliable co-worker which is one of the biggest actors in the Logistics sector. Thanks to its positive evolution, Siam Shipping was able to get contact with agents all around the world which permit them to be more and more able to satisfy their clients.
Now, Siam Shipping is categorized among the best in the sector in Thailand, which is the exchange pole of South East Asia, and with such results, and as they almost accomplish their principal aims in Thailand, the company is beginning to extend their business all over Asia. They opened a new platform Sino Shipping which is following the same strategy as Siam Shipping but over the Chinese market.
Siam Shipping is an international freight forwarder. They can do anything to permit you to ship what you want. In logistics there are several types of shipping, so logically, different type of service. The company can do it at a world scale, so indeed they can also do it everywhere in Thailand. Furthermore, Siam Shipping can perform a shipping from A to Z, in other words they can do the shipping from a place to the delivery, that is what we call a door-to-door service.
If you need to ship something from a place to another, to import or to export.
The goods must be enough large to be ship, in general, Siam Shipping accepts a minimum of one cubic meter (CBM). Siam Shipping can provide trucking service, Air freight and Sea freight.
Air freight can only be done for shipping between 0-2 CBM. Its advantage is that it takes, in general, only around five-seven days. But it is more expensive than sea freight.
Siam Shipping also offer express services using companies as DHL or TNT which cost more but arrive around 3 days later at maximum.
Sea freight is the cheapest way to send goods. But it costs time, indeed according to the destination it takes on average around 35 days. There are different ways to ship goods by Sea freight:
- Less than Container Loading (LCL sea freight); that is what we call “bulking”, the shipping has to be between 0-15 CBM. All will be load in a container with other shipping. It permits to fill a container and to get a better price when the customer does not have a huge shipping.
- Full Container Loading (FCL sea freight); here the shipment will take an entire container. It exists three different types of container. The 20’ (15-30 CBM); the 40’ (30-60 CBM) and the 40’ High Cu (60-70 CBM).
Trucking services in general, they are used to get the goods from the original place to the port or airport and then to make the delivery on place.
None service is better than another, it is our job to calculate and propose the best solution to each request. Then prices could depend according to the customer’s budget, or availabilities of the goods. Indeed, the service is not obligatory a door-to-door service, it could be a port-to-port or door-to-port service for example.
Usually it would be more the part of Siam Relocation but as I told you before, people often ask for relocation cases from the Siam Shipping website.
This type of service is made for people who wants to move from or to Thailand. Siam Shipping proposes free quotation. We estimate the situation and the costs. We give a proposal. If it corresponds to the customer, then we can organize a survey, to be more precise in the evaluation.
It is a major and maybe the most difficult part of the shipping process. That is the reason Siam Shipping can do it all to a private or a professional. With all its network of agents around the world, the company can help customers on every case.
Some people have no problem to ship their product, but sometimes, the period cannot be link perfectly. So, the goods can arrive when the client is not available yet, in that case they cannot let the products at the customs clearance. Siam Shipping can provide a warehouse were the customer can wait and end all his task with a peaceful mind.
In that part, I will develop my thought and the environment of the company by doing a SWOT analysis.
Siam Shipping has different assets. The hard-working mindset of the team of entrepreneurs allows them to pursue their expansion and the development of the business.
The good knowledge of Thailand by the funders (7 years living).
The strong ally they have in Royal Tainer, they had established an important relationship with the company. They now have their own part on the new giant banner on the frontage of the building (cf. annexes).
As Thailand has a very National spirit, and as the company is Thai and the funders are French, Siam Shipping could be penalized more easily by the state government.
Its location is an advantage because, Thailand is literally the platform of Logistics in South East Asia. Do not forget that Bangkok is considered as one of the best city of opportunities.
With their fast-growing activity, Siam Shipping is no longer focus on Thailand but on all the other countries of Asia. Moreover, when Sino Shipping does already exist. China who is the world biggest pole of Logistics of the world.
By going onto several new markets, the original workers have to relocate their workforce in other project. So, they need to delegate to new faces. These needs to be as high as their recruiters to maintain their leading position on the Logistics markets in Thailand.
In this second part I will describe you the tasks and the missions I was assigned, how I was proceeding and working. I will also present you the team we were.
Digital marketing and communication
As evocated earlier, the main strategy of Siam Shipping is based on qualitative logistics service at the best prices.
The task was not as much difficult. The aim was to publish content in relation with Logistics every day, sometimes we have to do text with better quality, so we can get more days to do it. Our internship supervisor gave us text in English or French. These texts were sort to reach the largest targets as possible. For example, one text could be about the importation of a car and the other about the importation of a truck. Then, with these texts we had to modify them, by creating a full new content.
The text’s work is the major part of the strategy, it is the one which needs a certain consistency and time. This task is very redundant, but it permits to develop our vocabulary and a certain brain logical.
As a part of the social network’s generation, we also managed the social network’s account of the company. We were in charge of creating content and answer to the customer’s feedbacks.
This communication mission was entertaining, because we were authorized to use our vision of the brand. Although, to manage an account with a lot of people is a little bit stressing. Create and share content we knew how to do, but the most delicate thing was to treat the bad feedbacks of the customer (even if there are not a lot). Lucky I was to know the job of seller!
In another way, but by being in charge of the communication we were obligated to be scheduled.
Operational and sales
Surely my favorite part of the job. During the first days, our mentors created us business’ email to be ready to work. They immediately gave us responsibilities, they aimed us to sign the maximum of contracts we could, obviously we will get a commission on it (10% of the margin).
Our superior was receiving the quotation requests from the website or directly by email, then he forwarded them to us, the interns. We had to follow an established process. Before to be able to do a quotation, we had to get some important information as:
- The weight;
- The volume (CBM);
- The picking place;
- The Delivery place;
- The type of goods;
- If the customer wants us to pack his goods for him;
- If the customer wants an insurance.
So, the first thing to do was to contact the client within the next forty-eight hours after receiving an email. If no answer within two days, we contact him again. If there is still no answer, we just have to wait another mail. When the customer reply with the answers we need we were able to quote. But in general, the client takes a time before understanding all the data we want… Indeed at, every single email the director was in cc. and of course he kept an eye on what we were doing.
If we had any question, or issue he was very easy to contact. He gave us the perfect advises and boost us to continue the hard work. For the first quotation (cf. annexes) he assisted us to avoid any mistake. A first month was ending. No contract signed but a lot of demands were pending. By dint of repetition the quotation making was easier and easier. We work closely with export and import service of Royal Tainer to get prices.
Then the first “serious” file arrived. He accepted the proposal I gave him, it was for a relocation. The man was from Mauritius and lived in Bangkok for ten years, but now he decided to go back to his mother land. It was mainly household goods by LCL sea freight from Bangkok to Mauritius. I went to his place several times to check and approve the goods and the packing. The transaction was concluded, the goods arrived in time at Port Louis, without a problem.
At the same time, I was on another file, this time was also a relocation, same situation, but to Indonesia. In Indonesia, the customs clearance could be more complicated than in other countries, so we decided to use the services of another International freight forwarder who have already a knowledge of this country. We decided to work with JVK. All was settled, I already done the survey with our Indonesian customer, he already paid the costs, we were planning a picking date. When our partner announced us an additional cost at the arrival of THB 10,000 which represents approximatively € 258. Then the client did not understand and claimed a refund, which we did. This failure showed me how rigorous we need to be in this job. My supervisor did not stop to tell me that nothing can be promised until the job cost is secured.
These missions were affiliated with the new Chinese branch of the company: Sino Shipping.
The aim was to find trustful partners to work with on this new market. For that, we had a target and we needed to contact them (emailing). Then our supervisor could get in touch with the potential partner.
We get the opportunity to meet one of our target in Bangkok, because of their presence around the world.
The aim was to develop the Chinese branch Sino Shipping of the company.
We also were sent in convention in Bangkok. It could be for French, as an expats meeting, or it could be a meeting where we can see potential co-worker and even our rivals. We were here to talk at the maximum of people to develop relations and possibilities of common work. These meetings gathered a lot of people and furthermore, the buffets were always tasty.
It permits us to experience professional meetings for important stakes.
As presented before, Siam Shipping was born under the structure of Royal Tainer Co. LTD. that is why the companies are closely linked.
Mr. Somchai is the director of Royal Tainer is in charge of everything and follows every customer’s files.
Nathan Lelievre is the founder of Siam Shipping, he works on every part of the business, but he is more focused on the sales part.
Nicolas Rahme is the co-founder, he is in charge of the whole marketing strategy. He publishes media content every day.
Apiwat, Nunthaphol and Wanna were our contacts to estimate the costs for an operation. But in fact, Siam Shipping has more than 30 employees, direct or indirect, al working in Bangkok office, ports and airports and in some cities accross Thailand.
Here is the last part. I will develop my personal point of view about Siam Shipping and my life experience in Thailand.
Siam Shipping is a very fast-growing business. They benefited of an incredible shoot up thanks to their excellent strategy. A plan in the spirit of the times, where quality is omnipresent in our society.
Now they need to confirm their market position, and maybe become leader of the sector. This last is large and important, Siam Shipping does not have currently the necessary assets to compete with the biggest of the Logistics and they know that. By the way, they decided to focus more on the “smaller” files like the removal which is “easier” to treat. At the same time with their partnership with Royal Tainer Co. LTD. they are able to give them the “bigger” files which imply steady shipment of containers for important goods. For example, one day, I received a request by an important Indian group who wanted to export four containers by week of quartz. I was in charge of these clients, and when they decided to meet us, I present them to Mr Somchai, for Royal Tainer (I never received any news, so I guess that they did not find an agreement).
Nowadays Siam Shipping is established in the Thai Logistics Environment. The last objective they want to reach in Thailand is to institute a real durability. They want to be the leader in the sector of the relocation from and to Thailand. Which is possible if they continue their strategy.
The best strength of Siam Shipping is their flexibility. It is one of their motto, to always be able to adapt to each customer. In that way, they propose every service that a huge group of Logistics (like AGS for example) can propose. Their only weakness is their size, but thanks to their allies they can solve this issue. By focusing on the relocation segment, they can have a veritable recognition and be the number one of the area.
Although as they almost accomplish their missions in Thailand, the directors Nathan and Nicolas, have bigger ambitions. Since the first days they wanted to set up an international company able to help people from different countries. In 2010, only two years and a half later, they start their Chinese Branch, but with the increasing turnover results they want to hire at the maximum, and to offer lot of responsibilities as to develop the activity in countries as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia …
To conclude my thoughts about Siam Shipping, from a student eye who saw form the indoors; I would say that the organization is well structure, boosted by a strong will of success. Nicolas and Nathan know what they do not like and are aware of what to do to reach their goals. Even with an amazing year 2017, Siam Shipping still got a huge potential. The customers are coming, and the company did not make use of all the clients they could pretend to have. Moreover, their business is openable to as much countries it exists, which always make it profitable.
I must talk about the organization of Siam Shipping. It is built with an innovative structure. This came from the “non-corporate” state of mind of Nicolas and Nathan. These two were efficient enough in their company, sometimes maybe too much. They were limited by this same organization, as with a classic structure, they had to respect their schedule. With days that look alike from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
So, when they created Siam Shipping, they decided to break off this classical vision of the business organization. By basing the strategy on the customer loyalty, they were no longer forced to go at an office. This last was only needed to welcome the customers. So now, this is easier, as the contact is processing by emails, Siam Shipping’s workers do not need to be at the office all day. They can meet customer either in Coffee or in office.
The key to succeed with such a structure is to have a confident relationship between all the workers. They need to know that they can trust their colleagues. This trust is passing by precision, which is, by the way, a fundamental word in Logistics. The work and the job are priority number one.
To me this structure was not a problem, as I was able to satisfy my customers, I reached my goals and signed several contracts for the company.
There is a common way of thinking which says that people in Asia (precisely in South Asia) are not as punctual we, westerners, can be. The major example is with trains. During a weekend I wanted to go to the North of Thailand, the historical part of the Old Siam Kingdom. The best way to travel into Thailand was trains; “the fastest and cheapest” (Internet says). But on every forum and blog I visited, people were saying that Trains cannot arrive or leave the railway station at the right time, indicated on the ticket. I took maybe 5 or more times the train, and I was never being victim by a late departure or arrival, it was more often ahead of time. One time I miss my train even if I was an hour before the departure at the station, but it was because of the misunderstanding of the Thai language …
At work, we have some issues with some Thai colleague, indeed, we needed to hurry them a little if we wanted to have some information at the right moment. Because, as I could had seen in France while I was working in a store, when the end of the day was planned at 6 p.m. Nunthaphol (or my French colleague) needs to go to toilet at 5:50 p.m. So, when we have an important customer who wants a quick quotation, it was difficult and problematical to make him wait, while we were waiting for our colleague Nunthaphol to reply. And it is the same in general with Thai workers, they are very strict on the schedule, and will not hesitate to go home when it is time. Indeed, it depends of each personality, I am just describing a generality. So, for this point, it is the same as in France.
The driving, this is something that if you are not aware and prepared, could get you scared in Bangkok, or in Thailand in general. First difference with our dear France, is that the vehicles are right hand drive. Then, you have to be aware of the motorbikes. They are everywhere. In Asia in general, motorbikes are a culture. For example, I know a little about Vietnam; in Ho Chi Minh city, there is over more than the half of the 8 million population that possess a motorbike. In Thailand, the roads are safer than in Vietnam thanks to the highly developed structures. Bangkok has gigantic highways, a sky train, a subway and a good network of buses. These last are the less developed way of transport, this is old buses, but you can go everywhere in Bangkok, a city of 1,500 km² of area. Anyways, the Thai circulation and roads structures does not have to envy ours.
The cost of life. This is clearly something that helped me to live a more than decent life in Thailand. €1 is approximatively equivalent to THB 38. You can find everything you want. With reasonable, cheapest or even higher prices than in our country. The automobiles (except “local” brands as Mitsubishi or Toyota) and the luxury brands for example are 10% to 50% more expensive than in France. But food, transport, sport centers, … life in general is cheaper. When I had to go to the office or to the downtown for example, I always took the taxi bikes (I told you that motorbikes are everywhere!), because it was always cheaper than a French bus ticket.
The food, a vital thing… As I stayed in a hotel for three months I needed to go outside to eat (I had no kitchen). As you should know Bangkok is a megalopolis, so you can find all kind of food. It could be French on the morning, Chinese for lunch, Lebanese for snack and Italian for dinner. All prices are available from the gastronomical menu to the coin plate on the street. I have to admit that I found in love with Thai food, for like €1 I was able to eat a delicious traditional dish in the street. Yes, the cleanliness conditions are not the same, but I am not sensitive about that.
Last important different aspect was the weather, the season was perfect, it was the beginning of the warm season. Every day the warm was on our shoulders. The only problem was the day time. Indeed, at the contrary of France, the Sunrise was early in the morning, around 6:00 a.m. when the sun was going down around 5:30-6:00 p.m. So, when we worked during the day in room without a window during the day and you want to enjoy your afternoon and evening outside, is it a little disappointed and depressing. It was easy to lose our markers.
For three months I get the luck and the opportunity to learn in a totally different environment that I ever grow up. I learn about Logistics in a young company who showed me a different vision of the ethics of work, and who gave me responsibilities. I worked not as an intern but as a real import / export expert. I helped customers to find their own way. I get a new network, new skills and surely a different personality. I discovered a culture, and different ways of thinking about our society. I lived in other conditions.
Thanks to Siam Shipping I learned more than a simple job. Due to their human sized structure, I had the chance to discover different part of a business. Moreover, I could use more than my International business lessons. The internship was enriching on different levels, on my vision to work as on my vision of the world. Now I know how to secure a job cost, how to estimate a shipment, … I know how to adapt myself to professional situation, and how to react to the cultural differences. I am prepared to work with every people from all around the world.
With that “loose” organization structure, I had the time to discover a part of the history and to meet people from everywhere. We have talked and shared about our respective Nations and life experience (even if mine was logically shorter than them).
At the beginning I would not imagine leaving for Thailand, but finally I learned tremendously. My professional skills are developed in different fields when my culture is always more open. I do not think that I improved as I expected my English, but a little improvement cannot be denied.
This internship taught me how difficult is the Logistics sectors but also how open it is. In other words, I literally discover it, at the beginning I was not interested as much because I did not know anything about. Now I am aware of all the opportunities and how the mechanism function.
Now that I learned a little about Asia I really want to discover another part of the world which America is. That is why next year I am going to Chile and Canada. From the one hand learn more about the personalities of the world and in the other developed my language skills as Spanish and English.
I thank you for the time you took to read my thought about these three unforgettable months. I hoped you enjoyed reading my experience
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